English Muffins and American traditions
Plus, pho, what we've learned since March, and some much needed gratitude
I’ve been laying low this past week in anticipation of seeing my parents and sister for Thanksgiving. I got tested this morning at Woodhull hospital (cannot recommend a public testing center enough, last time I went, I got results in 25 hours). Find one near you here and remember that testing alone is not a sufficient plan. If you’re going to be alone on Thanksgiving, please reach out to someone and set up a Facetime session or something you’ll look forward to.
I’ve been struggling with this second phase of staying home and appreciated this piece about all the things we’ve learned since March. Particularly in New York, we understand what we need to do to protect each other (though it would be great to have some financial support from the government, especially for restaurant workers and people facing eviction or hunger). To combat boredom, we started the Crown (we’re in the middle of Season 2) and I’m trying to get out of my reading rut (here’s my goodreads and I’m always looking for book recs). I know many of you are sick of things, novelty is hard to come by. I’ll share some tips at the end and we can help each other out on Instagram.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
In last week’s cooking recap, two people mentioned English Muffins. Sold! Dale did a pre quarantine grocery run and of course, I added them to the list. They’re the perfect size and there are endless ways to enjoy them. Favorites so far: peanut butter and banana, peanut butter and jelly, ricotta cheese and chili crisp, egg sandwiches with sharp cheddar, avocado, and hot sauce. Next up, I want to make mini pizzas. Make sure you toast them before enjoying (I don’t have a toaster so I just put them in the oven).
Crispy tofu with peanut sauce is a weeknight go to. I buy extra firm tofu which you don’t really have to press, cube it and coat in cornstarch before baking at 425 for about 25 minutes (every oven is different and mine is weak so it usually takes a little longer). You want it to be crispy and lightly golden. While the tofu bakes, I make rice and some vegetable, usually steamed or roasted broccoli. The star of the show is a peanut sauce made with grated ginger and garlic, peanut butter (about 1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Adjust the amounts to taste—sometimes I add a little water to thin it out or some sesame seeds for texture. I top my bowl with chili crisp.
Do you ever read a recipe and realize all the ingredients are currently in your kitchen? This happened on Thursday with Smitten Kitchen corn fritters. I had a bag of frozen corn from who knows when and am very pro fritter (try these too). They come together easy and were so delicious (we made a half batch which is enough for two people). I had them with some hot sauce, avocado, a fried egg, and a little kale salad and Dale had them with grilled salmon and a roll.
I ate a late breakfast on Saturday and made a mid afternoon smoothie. I keep a bag of frozen fruit on hand (fruit that I freeze when it’s going bad) so I used a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, a nub of ginger, a handful of kale, and some vanilla almond milk. The texture was perfect, I think, because I didn’t use ice. I always drink my smoothies from a mason jar with a metal straw and it definitely improves the experience.
Some other meals from last week: frozen tortellini with jazzed up jarred marinara, a tahini caesar salad with Tuscan kale (the dressing was tahini, lemon juice, grated garlic, parmesan cheese, dijon, salt, pepper, and a little water).
Something to order:
For weekly Bachelorette takeout, we ordered pho from Lucy’s Vietnamese (a rec from Morgan). They have two locations and the vegan ginger chicken pho was SO good. I’m not a big fake meat person but this had a great texture and didn’t really remind me too much of meat (this is a good thing to me). The broth is super flavorful and it’s enough for two meals. Highly recommend (meat eaters also vouched for the chicken and brisket versions).
Julianne had a doctor’s appointment uptown and dropped off breakfast from Tal bagels, which I had never had. The bagel was so good and the scallion cream cheese is super green and scallion-y. Having some breakfast variety really helped my mood this week.
I’m all about ordering for leftovers these days and added a side of rice and beans to our Los Tacos order. Tacos don’t keep well as leftovers (and I always eat them all), but rice and beans last really well.
Something to read: This section is long this week in case you have time off and want to cozy up and read
Meme’s Diner in Prospect Heights closes for good after today. I will miss it (it was one of my last restaurant meals back in March and is an important queer restaurant space). The owners spoke candidly about closing and just how tough things are for restaurant owners right now.
A case for a more regional understanding of food. This is so important and something I absolutely noticed while living in Guatemala. It’s not a huge country but there is so much diversity in the cuisine depending on the climate, history, and people.
First dates are 100 times more complicated nowadays. Emma Orlow spoke to people dating and the people working at date spots.
Next time I can throw a party, I am channeling this energy
Wise words from Joe Holder: intergenerational health starts with you
Wines are sometimes talked about in this binary of old world versus new world (which is so biased anyway, history does not begin when Europeans arrive somewhere). This is also a myth in terms of the actual grapes so let’s retire the term and just say what we mean.
Esquire made a best new restaurants list in the middle of a pandemic, which involved a lot of road trips. I don’t think this was really necessary (lots of interstate travel has never been recommended) but I think they highlighted some really good spots.
The Magic Carpet food truck helped get me through college. I hope the owners can make it through.
Kimjang, the Communal Act of Kimchi Making, Gains New Meaning This Year (the photos are so cool)
I cancelled my Thanksgiving and you can too from Shani Silver.
You won’t miss the cultural anxiety of office potlucks (I remember my one and only office Thanksgiving potluck and it was awful!)
We all have a part to play in the fight against food waste (related: this video of Priya Krishna and Dominique Drakeford cooking a low waste Thanksgiving is great and it discusses the whiteness of many sustainability movements)
How to celebrate Thanksgiving on stolen land (from 2018 but sadly evergreen content!!)
Hundreds of thousands of families are grieving this year. You don’t have to fake it through Thanksgiving
I’ve been curious about mutual aid since getting involved with my local group and this newsletter is a thoughtful look at the differences between mutual aid and charity.
Bill Buford’s beautiful story on baking bread in Lyon was one of my favorite spring reads. He follows up with a Thanksgiving menu with nods to France.
Hitha’s gift guide is great, especially if you have kids or are purchasing gifts for kids!
Now for some food media news! First the good: Aaron Hutcherson joined the Washington Post Food Section. He’s super talented and lovely (check out his blog) and I can’t wait to see his work. The New York Times Food Section hired Nikita Richardson (from New York Mag) and Tanya Sichynsky (from WaPo) as Senior Staff Editors. Nikita has done great work at Grubstreet and the Strategist and Tanya is a newsletter whiz. Both of the sections are still led by white men but I hope these very smart people get to make big changes (and that they’re being paid very well).
The bad news: The LA Times continues to treat Patricia Escárcega terribly. They’re justifying her low pay by calling out her lack of prestige, completely ignoring the issues with awards. They even told her she should be grateful to be paid so well. It’s so frustrating and reminds us how much of a fight institutional change is. If you have an LA Times subscription (or if you don’t), definitely tweet at them with your thoughts and concerns. Alicia Kennedy has more to say about the issues with prestige here.
In tone deaf news, Molly Baz shared some truly baffling tips for Thanksgiving poolside, a very relatable situation (she left Bon Appetit but was still around when they made the Thanksgiving issue). They included getting a pet sitter for the day and wearing a dark bathing suit in case you spill. She and Carla Lalli Music have both launched patreons and Molly just launched merch. Again, there is no need to give white former BA staffers your money!
More news: Gaby Melian has also left Bon Appetit. Her caption alludes to some issues and mistreatment that I hope she can elaborate on. I look forward to what she does next and can only imagine how she was treated in the test kitchen.
Moving on, let’s talk about what you’re sick of!
Lily is having some breakfast fatigue. I suggested Japanese soufflé pancakes: I am very tired of making my own pancakes. They are never as good (or as gorgeously large and fluffy) as ones from a diner. Ordering breakfast food to my apartment never really hits the spot either. They need to be piping hot, pillow-y soft and next to some eggs and bacon!!!
Lizzi misses long dinners with friends and so do I: Tired of not getting to have a long dinner out with friends! I miss not sitting at a beautifully lit table with good company, wine, and food. Also tired of making my own eggs - I was never a big brunch person but I would do a lot for Gotan (rip) or Shuka brunch.
If you want to share or offer suggestions, head over to this post. Remember to be kind!
This week, I want to get really cheesy. My students and I created a virtual gratitude wall in class and it was really sweet. So reply to this email with one or two things you’re grateful for, big or small. I’ll share them next week.
I’ll start. I’m so grateful for cozy sweatshirts, impromptu FaceTimes, breakfast sandwiches, Dale doing the dishes, and friends who are neighbors.
I can’t wait to hear yours.
Sending big hugs this week! I’m here for any last minute questions!